It may come as a surprise to you to learn that it is actually possible to obtain a professional Certification in the photography industry. Professional Photographers of America offers a designation of Certified Professional Photographer (CPP) that is granted to applicants who successfully navigate a difficult written exam and an intensive portfolio review. (Disclaimer: Although I am a CPP, I’m in no way compensated or sponsored by PPA for any endorsements thereof)
It may also come as a surprise to you to learn that this Certification is a hotly contested topic in the industry. Some argue that it’s not possible to certify art, nor is it beneficial to try. Others argue that Certification is the best response to an industry that is increasingly flooded by hobbyists and amateurs. So who is right? More importantly:
Can certification benefit you?
Certification has many advantages. For starters, it’s a huge confidence-booster. As one who perpetually suffers from stage fright before every shoot, I’ve found my CPP to be hugely helpful in taking the edge off of those nerves. Thanks to the demanding CPP process I now feel confident that I can handle just about any surprises that may come up in a shoot, and that lack of anxiety makes my therapist very happy. It has also brought me a great deal more commercial work, an unexpected benefit that has helped see me through a few slow months. And, of course, it sets me apart from my competition – I’m not just some girl with a camera, I’m a professional.
There is, of course, a catch. CPP is not about certifying art – that’s far too subjective – but about certifying technical knowledge and ability, and it does so very thoroughly. However, as a result it can often feel that your images lose some of their soul as you go through the process, or that you lose touch with the indescribable “something” that makes your images works of art.
The important thing to remember is that Certification is a process.
It’s critically important that you not only learn the rules, but also learn when to break them for artistic effect.
When properly applied, Certification can help you perfect all the little details to add even more impact to your work. Instead of shooting 100 images to finally capture one perfect shot, you’ll be able to create images with more purpose and control, saving you time and a lot of heartache. The trick is to find the balance between technical excellence and artistic impact – both are part of a truly spectacular final product. But the real question is:
Does Certification have value specifically for a boudoir photographer?
I believe the answer is definitely “YES.”
For most of our clients, the biggest fear going into a session is “Will I look good?” Certification teaches you rock-solid principles to ensure you know how to flatter every figure, down to subtle details in lighting and posing that can make all the difference to an insecure client. We all know certain poses that seem to work for almost everyone, but CPP will ensure that you know the principles behind it all, helping you to better improvise on the fly.
Additionally, presenting your clients with your Certification helps reassure them that they are in good hands. They worry less about your legitimacy and skill, and they can feel confident that their images will be safe with a professional.
The CPP process isn’t easy – it can take anywhere from 4 months to 2 years, and the process of critique will certainly help you develop a thick skin. But for many, it can be incredibly rewarding and professionally valuable, especially in the boudoir industry.
If you’re interested in pursuing certification, you can find more information at the PPA web site here.